The Troy City Council Republican minority is calling for some changes to Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden's budget proposal, set to come up for a vote tonight.
Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden’s proposed 2019 city budget totals $73 million.
The minority members, Council President Carmella Mantello and Councilor Jim Gulli and Mark McGrath, propose legislation requiring a referendum on the city's new permanent garbage fund on the 2019 ballot. Mantello argues the fund constitutes a double charge or double tax for sanitation services, already included in property tax bills. "It was supposed to sunset in 2018, at the end of this year, and unfortunately the mayor has put in the budget for $4 million dollar and increased the fee from $160 to $164. But more importantly, proposes to make it permanent."
Mantello believes voters should have a say. "In 2019, put it on the ballot. We'll pass a local law. We'll need a couple council members on the majority to support it. If it's a good idea, let the mayor go around the city and talk about the garbage fund. And if folks want a permanent garbage fund, let the people of Troy decide."
The minority is also looking to trim Madden's spending plan by $230,000, including rejecting a proposal to hire a full-time grants writer that would save $90,000. Another $90,000 savings would come from eliminating consulting fees billed by the Corporation Counsel, mandating such work be done in-house. And Mantello says $30,000 could be saved by eliminating a proposal to hire a part-time employee for the Assessor's office. "Certainly, we need, as the legislative body, to take some of the heat off the taxpayer debt."
Madden says previous budget workshops discussions with the council seemed to be fruitful, but the new proposed cuts presents a challenge. "We didn't get a chance to discuss the cuts or why they were proposing certain cuts, so there wasn't a rationale offered for cutting the lines that they have proposed cutting. It seemed sort of arbitrary."
Madden calls it "unfortunate" that there has been no opportunity for more public discussion. "A number of the cuts that they proposed were things that we had proposed in the meeting last week, in the workshop, and then they went a little further and they cut things that in my view don't make a lot of sense for the city taxpayers."
Madden is optimistic. "I think we're gonna get through the process. This is a budget that we're proud of. It's our third balanced budget. It again is based on verifiable facts, not wishes, not hopes, doesn't rely on one-shots. The state comptroller's office was happy with it. And it comes in under the tax cap, so the taxpayers should be happy with it as well."
A Budget Council Finance Meeting precedes the Special Budget Meeting at 7 p.m.
- The 2019 Proposed Troy City Budget can be reviewed at www.troyny.gov